Grocery stores grapple with high demand as residents react to coronavirus spread |

Grocery stores grapple with high demand as residents react to coronavirus spread

Shelves at The Market at Park City are emptying almost as soon as they’re restocked, but owner Mike Holm praised the community for remaining calm and civil in the face of a pandemic.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Mike Holm, owner of The Market at Park City, barely had time to speak Monday morning. He and the rest of his staff were busy stocking shelves and sanitizing common areas, he said, and it’s been frantically busy since last week.

“It feels like everything we get in is selling as quickly as we can stock it,” he said. “It’s been an onslaught. I’ve never seen a rush on grocery stores like we’re seeing now and I’ve been in this business 40 years.”

Holm said The Market staff is working hard to keep shelves stocked, and patrons are making do with what is available. The problem, he said, is nationwide. Because grocery stores all over are placing such large orders, there has been a delay in receiving them.

“If we place an order Monday morning, it’s not going to arrive until Wednesday morning, or maybe Tuesday night at the earliest,” he said. “The trucks are just too full, and there are only so many of them, only so many drivers. We’re two days behind on our orders.”

Bananas and other produce have been relatively easy to get and to keep stocked. Staple items like bread and nonperishables like flour, canned goods and cleaning products, though, are in high demand. Holm said The Market has none of those things in reserve.

“As soon as those things arrive they are going straight out onto shelves,” he said.

Furthermore, Holm said, distributors are having to ration what they deliver. He is passing that restriction onto his customers.

“What we are trying to do is avoid hoarders,” he said. “We don’t want people coming in and buying everything we got.”

Smith’s Food and Drug in Kimball Junction is taking similar steps. Kroger, the nationwide grocery chain that includes Smith’s, detailed some of the steps its stores are taking to keep its patrons and employees safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Those steps include cleaning common areas more often, including cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, conveyor belts and food service counters, and cleaning shelves when restocking products. In addition, Kroger’s announcement said employees who need financial support due to the outbreak can get it through the company’s Helping Hands fund.

As frantically busy as it’s been at The Market, Holm said the thing that has struck him most is the behavior of the community as they face an uncertain future.

“We are so grateful that everyone has been so patient and kind,” he said. “No one is fighting over products. In fact, I’ve seen people saying, ‘Here, you take it. I’ll get it next time.’ That kind of thing.

“And people have been very respectful and complimentary to us, as well. I’m just very grateful for the peace.”

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